All lawmakers should
study the Draft Interfaith Commission of Malaysia Bill 2005 for the
sake of religious harmony in the country
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
In the interest of religious harmony and peace for
the nation, a concerned group of citizens representing different faiths have
come together in Bangi on February 24-25, 2005 to explore the feasibility of
forming an interfaith commission in Malaysia. Their persistence,
determination and hard work finally came to fruition in the form of the
Draft Interfaith Commission of Malaysia Bill 2005(www.malaysianbar.org.my).
brains behind the noble project must be rightfully commended for such an
effort would not be possible without true conviction and extraordinary
courage. They must also be prepared to go through a baptism of fire.
true enough. The movers behind the process have been labelled as blasphemers
and troublemakers soon after the Bangi conference. Even the Cabinet Minister
who came to give his support was under attack by his peers and some
overzealous self- proclaimed religious scholars.
for senses to return to these narrow minds and hope that this great effort
would finally bear fruits for the good of religious harmony in the country.
sincerely urge all Members of Parliament and other lawmakers to study the
Draft Bill with great care and deep interest. We are confident that those
who care to read and understand the Draft Bill will eventually see the
wisdom of forming an interfaith commission in the country.
the formation of an interfaith commission, a statutory body whose primary
objective would be to advance, promote and protect every individual’s
freedom to thought, conscience and religion with a view to harmonious
co-existence in our society, we believe it would certainly go a long way in
preventing Malaysians of different faiths from entangling in ugly disputes
arising from misunderstanding, suspicion and mistrust. There is no need for
me to quote any examples to highlight the need of religious harmony. There
were simply too many disheartening cases and sad stories for you and I to
been trying its very best to preserve religious harmony for decades. The
party respects and upholds Islam as the official religion, and all other
religions could be practised freely in the country. We are firm believers of
religious freedom and harmony.
party has always been in the forefront to protect individual’s freedom of
religion in our multi-religious society. From seventies to eighties, our
party leaders have courageously checked the wave of Islamisation. We have
called for the formation of an interfaith council inside and outside of
Parliament. And we have categorically said no to Islamic State, whether ala
UMNO or ala PAS in the nineties.
Malaysians can certainly live happily together without the “holier than
thou” attitude and the meaningless argument on the superiority or
supremacy of certain religions.
all, Malaysian peoples were peace-loving by nature. We should have
sufficient basis and confidence to push for greater understanding and
respect for each other’s religion.
establishment of Interfaith Commission of Malaysia is certainly good for
harmonious co-existence, which was integral to the happiness, welfare and
prosperity of the Malaysian people.
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew,
DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief